Härmä MI, Ilmarinen J, Knauth P, et al. Physical training intervention in female shift workers: I. The effects of intervention on fitness, fatigue, sleep, and psychosomatic symptoms
A physical training intervention was carried out on 75 nurses and nursing aides working irregular shifts to determine the effects of such an intervention on health, sleep-wakefulness and adaptation to shiftwork. The study design and changes in physical fitness, fatigue, sleep and psychosomatic symptoms are examined. Training (T) and control (C) groups were built randomly from matched sets of subjects. Questionnaire, laboratory and field studies were done before and after a controlled physical training programme lasting four months. Maximal oxygen consumption and muscle strength increased and heart rates at rest and at work decreased significantly in the T but not in the C group. General fatique during the shift cycle, and fatigue during the night shifts were reduced, whereas fatigue during the evening shifts increased owing to the intervention. Sleep length increased slightly and musculoskeletal symptoms were reduced. The results suggest that moderate physical training increases the physical fitness of female shift workers, and reduces work-dependent fatigue and musculoskeletal symptoms.
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